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Empowering Agents: AI-Driven Coaching Drive Contact Center Excellence

Contact center agent coaching solutions powered by artificial intelligence (AI) offer a host of personalized, data-driven insights to improve performance.

These platforms are also capable of providing feedback in real-time, assisting with everything from accelerated onboarding to on-the-call challenges.

Unlike traditional coaching methods, AI- solutions provide continuous support and performance analytics tailored to individual agent needs, resulting in more effective skill development and performance enhancement.

Advanced algorithms can analyze data from various sources, such as call recordings, customer feedback, and performance metrics, to identify patterns and correlations.

"This enables supervisors to quickly and easily identify areas for improvement and provide targeted coaching to agents," said Kathy Ross, senior director analyst at Gartner.

She explained AI-powered coaching solutions can also deliver prioritized, actionable insights to supervisors.

"Traditional coaching methods often rely on supervisors to manually sift through data and identify areas for improvement," Ross said. "AI-powered coaching solutions, however, can automatically analyze data and provide supervisors with clear recommendations on where to focus their coaching efforts."

This not only saves time but also ensures that supervisors are focusing on the most impactful areas for improvement.

Sentiment analysis, speech analytics, and performance scoring are all real-time feedback tools that provide agents with instant insights into their communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and adherence to best practices.


Insight Prioritization, Performance Tracking

Jim Palmer, chief AI officer (CAIO) at Dialpad, explained AI-driven coaching solutions should capture agent and customer responses on each call and track agent adherence to specific questions and behaviors.

"Another key feature is the ability to offer post-call analytics to help managers pinpoint coaching opportunities," he said. "All this can help improve agent performance and the customer experience."

He added AI also provides significant opportunities to scale coaching efforts.

"Agents can leverage real-time AI-powered feedback and supervisors can more easily find those coachable moments helping improve efficiency and effectiveness," Palmer said.

AI-driven coaching solutions for agent empowerment and performance improvement come with several key features and capabilities.

These features are designed to provide actionable insights, prioritize areas for improvement, support coaching delivery, and measure the impact of coaching efforts.

Andy Dignan, chief operating officer at Five9, said AI can empower entire contact center operations while also giving agents the individualized support they need to improve.

"It strengthens the business by lowering attrition, which we know is a perpetual challenge for contact centers and reduces the concern agents have about lack of career growth," he said.

These tools can also drive revenue by arming customer service agents with the information to better field sales opportunities that present themselves during a customer support engagement.

Dignan added traditional training methods often struggle to keep pace with ongoing promotions or changes in the industry.

"The ability to deliver continuous training and updates to agents as needed with real-time guidance cards ensures they are always equipped with the latest information and skills to excel in their roles," he said.

Ross explained AI-driven coaching solutions provide supervisors with examples of both positive and negative skills and behaviors.

These examples help supervisors deliver more effective coaching by providing real-life scenarios that agents can relate to.

"They also facilitate self-discovery discussions, allowing agents to reflect on their own performance and identify areas for improvement," she said.


Overcoming Implementation Challenges

Omar Javaid, chief product officer at Avaya, cautioned organizations may face challenges such as resistance to change, cultural barriers, technical integration issues, and data security concerns when implementing AI-driven coaching solutions in contact centers.

"To address these challenges, it's essential to involve stakeholders early in the process, provide comprehensive training and support, prioritize data privacy and security measures, and foster a culture of continuous learning and innovation," he said.

He recommended organizations conduct pilot tests, gather feedback from agents, and iterate on the implementation strategy to ensure successful adoption and maximum benefits.

Kevin McNulty, senior director of product marketing at Talkdesk, said biases and discrimination can seep into AI-driven coaching solutions if the datasets that the technology is trained on doesn’t have enough variables.

For example, an AI system could mistake an agent with an accent as having a poor command of English and create a training program that is insensitive and harmful, if the AI has only been trained on data generated by native English speakers.

"An automatic quality review could favor one pattern of speech over another, leading to unequal treatment of agents," he added.

McNulty said to address these issues, it's crucial for organizations to use diverse training data, conduct regular bias audits and engage a broad range of stakeholders during AI implementation.

"Incorporating a human-in-the-loop approach ensures a critical balance of AI-generated insights with human judgment, enhancing the fairness and effectiveness of AI-driven coaching," he said.

Ross noted the introduction of AI-driven coaching solutions may require a cultural shift and change in the way supervisors and agents approach coaching and performance improvement.

She recommended organizations invest in change management initiatives to ensure that supervisors and agents understand the benefits of the new technology and are equipped with the skills and knowledge to effectively utilize the AI-driven coaching solutions.

"Training, communication, and ongoing support are key to driving adoption and maximizing the benefits of the technology," Ross said.

Palmer said the biggest barrier to implementation he often hears about is the cost associated with it.

"While it requires an initial investment, it is important to remember that more intuitive technology that acts as a resource to agents brings increased productivity, greater job satisfaction, less turnover, more productive conversations, and better customer and agent experiences," he said.

He pointed out a happy customer can go a long way, resulting in loyal customers, potential customer referrals, and new business which translates to additional revenue for long-term business growth and success.

"The ROI is well worth the initial investment," Palmer said.